I was incredibly blessed to be able to take a class with Nancy this summer!
Related post at my personal blog: Self-Portrait: “Bridge to Somewhere”
NORTH AMERICAN NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY ASSOCIATION
PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE CREATIVE LIFE with Nancy Rotenberg
“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill but always keep that hunger
And when you get the choice
to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance…I hope you dance.”
— Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers
“In most men,” wrote Augustin de Saint Beuve,” there is a dead poet whom the man survives.” Why does the poet die so young? Why are so many men and women limping along the trail of life, the doors to their hearts tightly bolted? What happened to the light we had as small children when we were filled with awe and excitement? Where or when did we learn that original thinking is wrong? At what point did we begin to follow the path of others’ perceptions of who we should be? How do you want to travel on the journey that is your one precious life? How do you get home to your one authentic self?
We can’t always find the answers to these questions but we can cultivate a way of living that celebrates uniqueness and we can travel deeper into our seeing. As we journey, we can develop a quality of mind that not only enriches the creative process in art, but results in a return to our true souls and to a more imaginative, richer state of being.
There are dragons that roam the wilderness of creative quests. If left to run amok, they can inhibit the most determined artist. The creative process transforms you, the artist, into a creative warrior – arming you to slay the dragons or at least keep them at bay.
The first step is to develop the courage to venture into the unknown, to climb into the mode of exploration – of subject and light, of assumed boundaries of photography and on paths that travel beyond personal horizons.
The dragons that plague the creative process appeal to the part of your mind that deals with product and ego. The way to combat these dragons and to discover images that grow from your heart and soul is not by searching in the drawers of your mind.
Prevailing mythology has it that creativity is a gift of some sort, but really it is a state of being – a quality of mind available to all. In a creative mind, the world is unique, has beauty, and is filled with potential. Creativity is an attitude. Creativity is like being in love – with life and with yourself. Creativity doesn’t have a simple definition, but we know that it is an ongoing process and it is about the search to discover the place where truth, beauty and fire live.
Joseph Campbell said, “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” Campbell knew that we don’t always know where we’re going or what the path will look like, but on the photographic path, the creative warrior knows photographic technique, owns great optics and good tripods, but that is not where they stop. On this path, craft is fine and necessary, but this is a search for transcending technical knowledge and is the quest for imagination and love.
DARE TO BE IDLE:
Learn to slow down and dare to be idle. We live in a culture that looks at idleness as something slovenly, lazy, and non-productive. It is only when you stop and reflect, that you can be filled and recharged. What you photograph today will be the result of yesterday’s “idling.”
To be on a creative path, we must work at ridding our thought processes of internal judges, worrying about winning camera club ribbons, or impressing editors. Photography should not be a competitive sport.
Have the courage and conviction to do whatever works for you. Do not let the appetites of those who “need” to stay in the box consume your taste for creativity.
We can’t blame the people around us who try to thwart our artistic expression. They don’t know any better. We can choose however, to trust what we know and who we are. We can move through fear and soar with the wings of our original creative selves. Eleanor Roosevelt knew this when she wrote, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
When viewers ask the question, “How long did it take you to get this shot?” There should be only one answer – “My whole life.” And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, make sure that you step onto the dance floor of a creative life and enjoy your dance.